Antitrust & Competition Policy Blog

Editor: D. Daniel Sokol
University of Florida
Levin College of Law

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Network Neutrality: A Research Guide

Posted by D. Daniel Sokol

Christopher T. Marsden, University of Essex - School of Law advises on Network Neutrality: A Research Guide.

ABSTRACT: The conclusion in a research handbook should emphasise the complexity of the problem than trying to claim a one-size-fits-all solution. I have categorised net neutrality into positive and negative (content discrimination) net neutrality indicating the latter as potentially harmful. Blocking content without informing customers appropriately is wrong: if it says ‘Internet service’, it should offer an open Internet (alongside walled gardens if that is expressly advertised as such). The issue of uncontrolled Internet flows versus engineered solutions is central to the question of a ‘free’ versus regulated Internet. A consumer- and citizen-orientated intervention depends on passing regulations to prevent unregulated nontransparent controls exerted over traffic via DPI equipment, whether imposed by ISPs for financial advantage or by governments eager to use this new technology to filter, censor and enforce copyright against their citizens. Unraveling the previous ISP limited liability regime risks removing the efficiency of that approach in permitting the free flow of information for economic and social advantage. These conclusions support a light-touch regulatory regime involving reporting requirements and co-regulation with, as far as is possible, market-based solutions. Solutions may be international as well as local, and international coordination of best practice and knowledge will enable national regulators to keep up with the technology ‘arms race’.

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